It has been over two decades since Jimmy Johnson last coached an NFL game, but his legacy behind his tremendous success hasn’t been diminished. Johnson put together one of the most successful eras in Dallas Cowboys history behind the enormous amount of triumph during his tenure with the franchise. That success, combined with what he accomplished with the Miami Dolphins, hadn’t equated to the ultimate prize of any coach or player in the league. However, the tide finally shifted in his direction on Sunday night.
Jimmy Johnson’s impressive coaching career
Before Johnson worked his way into the NFL ranks, he had become one of the most successful college coaches in the nation. That saw him spend 10 years at the collegiate level, where his career truly took off in his five seasons with the University of Miami, including double-digit wins in his last four years while reaching the No. 1 ranking in the nation in four out of the previous five seasons.
That was capped by leading the Hurricanes to an undefeated campaign and a national championship in the 1987 season. During his collegiate coaching career, he compiled an 81-34-3 record. Johnson capitalized on that success by earning an opportunity to coach the Cowboys, to which he also played a huge factor in helping shape the team.
Following a tough first year, where the team went 1-15, Dallas’ core group of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin helped turn the team into a championship-caliber squad. Along the way, he earned Coach of the Year honors after leading the team to an improved 7-9 mark in his second season.
That was followed by the Cowboys reaching the playoffs over his last three years, which included back-to-back Super Bowl wins in the final two seasons. In the five years at the helm in Dallas, he held a 44-36 regular-season record along with a 7-1 mark in the playoffs. Johnson coached five Hall of Famers during that span that included Aikman, Smith, Irvin, Larry Allen, and Charles Haley.
Johnson spent his last four years coaching the Dolphins, where he finished with a 36-28 record and never fell below the .500 mark.
Jimmy Johnson elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame
Over the years, it had seemed that Johnson was being overlooked for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That continued to be something that evaded him, but things changed for the 2020 inductee class as he secured one of the two coaches slots for the shrine.
It’s an honor that the NFL decided to surprise Johnson during the halftime broadcast during the Green Bay Packers vs. Seattle Seahawks game on Sunday night. The 76-year-old was at a loss for words due to the overwhelming wave of emotions as the first thing he could muster up was his appreciation for the players and coaches he has been around.
“Just think of all the great players that I’ve coached over the year, so from me to them, thank you, thank you.”
Johnson is set to join former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cowher in this year’s class that will be inducted in August.
Much deserved honor for Jimmy Johnson
Despite being passed up for the last several years, as it’s better late than never for Johnson as he has the resume that deserves to be inducted.
He may not have been a first-ballot Hall of Famer for many, but he did have a major impact on the game beyond the success he had. He had led the Cowboys to a pair of Super Bowl, which could have been more had things not fallen a part internally. Meanwhile, his value chart point system for draft picks is one that many organizations have used well after his time in the NFL.
All in all, Johnson has finally received an honor that he was well overdue.